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Mass meningitis immunisation kicks off in Northern Uganda

By Carol Natukunda, Charles Etukuri

Added 18th January 2017 07:14 AM

Under the campaign, free immunization will be conducted in high risk districts from 19th to 24th January

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Under the campaign, free immunization will be conducted in high risk districts from 19th to 24th January

 

The government in partnership with World Health Organization and UNICEF has launched a mass meningitis immunization campaign in Northern Uganda.

The campaign which targets, the age group between one to 29 years, seeks to strengthen surveillance and encourage routine immunization in the region, the health ministry’s acting director of general services, Prof. Anthony Mbonye stated.

Under the campaign, free immunization will be conducted in high risk districts from 19th to 24th January 2017.

They are Abim, Adjumani, Agago, Alebtong, Amolator, Amudat, Amuria, Amuru, Apac, Arua, Buliisa, Dokolo, Gulu, Hoima Kaabong, Kaberamaido, Katakwi, Kiryandongo, Kitgum, Koboko, Kole, Kotido, Lamwo, Lira, Maracha, Masindi, Moroto, Moyo, Nakapiripirit, Napak, Nebbi, Nwoya, Omoro, Otuke, Oyam, Pader, Soroti, Yumbe and Zombo.

“The preventive immunisation campaign is focusing on Northern Uganda and parts of Western Uganda, because they lie in the meningitis belt of Sub Saharan Africa, which has experienced frequent outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis epidemics leading to mortality and morbidity,” Mbonye stated.

“The dust winds and cold nights which characterize the period between December and June in the meningitis belt increase the risk of meningitis. Transmission of Meningitis is further facilitated by overcrowded housing and large population displacements,” Mbonye added.

He explained further that meningitis covers the thin brain membrane and spinal cord and can cause brain damage and death in 50% of cases if not treated.

“Anyone is prone to meningitis, however; infants and children are at more risk of contracting the disease. The risk factors for meningitis are people who have had close or prolonged contact with a person infected with meningitis,” he said.

While launching the campaign in Omoro district today, health minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng urged the public take all children and young adults for vaccination.

Immunisation is one of the key strategies that Uganda is implementing in its roadmap to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal 3, which underlines the need for good health and wellbeing.

The health ministry has made progress in child immunization – rising from 52% coverage in 2012 to 97% in 2017.

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